Is it a refuge? A clubhouse? What is this thing, this man cave? And is it dangerous?
This is what the womenfolk may want to know. For some men, it’s all too clear: The man cave is sanctuary.
“When we’re married, we have to give up a lot of territory, then when we have kids, we give up more territory,” said Joe Stone, 40, a minister in Thornton, Colo. “We have this tiny area of territory that we’ll defend to the death.”
Reach out to friends, asking to speak with their friends who have a man cave, and wait for the responses to roll in:
From Columbia, S.C.: “I have one of those! TV with cable. Refrigerator. Pingpong table. Hockey equipment. We haven’t had a car in that garage in years.”
From Dubuque, Iowa: The man cave is where “my decorations or sports memorabilia actually get to be on display where no one else sees it, since it doesn’t go with the rest of the house’s ‘decor.’”
From Anchorage, Alaska: “It’s where I go to unwind (to watch movies). It’s mostly subterranean; no light gets in or gets out. It’s the ‘war room’ — we pay our taxes from down there.”
From Overland Park, Kan.: “We built a sports basement a few years ago that is the ultimate ‘man cave,’ especially during football season. It is outfitted with a big screen, full bar, fireplace, pool table, pingpong table, book shelves, Wii and autographed footballs. A buddy of mine has nicknamed it ‘Nirvana.’ My 17-year-old son has friends over nearly every weekend and they immediately head for the basement.”
Then there was the young man at the Arvada, Colo., liquor store who said his cave is the Barcalounger in his garage. He doesn’t have a wife, but he does have roommates. The need for his own domain was the same.
“The man cave is a place where they don’t have any … social demands on them,” said Mark L. Held, a clinical psychologist in Greenwood Village, Colo.
The cave is where men are free from relating to people, from the “honey-do” list, from talking about their day with their wives. It’s neither immature nor pathological, Held said, for a man to need this time alone — killing tanks on Wii or watching a ball game — and it can serve a marriage well.
Wives need not feel rejected if their husbands spend a few minutes in the cave every day, Held says, although there’s a big difference between minutes and hours.